National Geographic Channel (NatGeo) sends a WOW! Signal reply using the Arecibo Observatory

August 15, 2012

Today, August 15, 2012, 35 years after the detection of the WOW! Signal, the Arecibo Observatory and NatGeo (National Geographic Channel), will be encoding, and transmitting a Reply to the  Wow! signal using Arecibo Observatory’s 1-megawatt (MW) continuous-wave (CW) S-band transmitter, at 2380 MHz (12.6 cm wavelength) to send a global tweet into space.

On Aug. 15, 1977, as part of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, Ohio State University's Big Ear radio observatory detected a strong 72-second radio signal from the direction of the Sagittarius constellation. When astronomer Jerry Ehman noticed the unusual spike -- consisting of six letters and numbers -- on the computer printout, he wrote the word "Wow!" in the margin of the sheet. Scientists tried to find this Wow signal again but it never reappeared.

Even though, the debate continues as to whether or not this was an actual alien contact, the Arecibo Observatory and National Geographic Channel (NatGeo) joined in a bold plan so that the the world's largest ground-based radio telescope administered by SRI International, Universities Space Research Association and Universidad Metropolitana would decide how the tweets could be encoded and transmitted to finally send a reply back into the final frontier of space.

NatGeo spokeswoman Courteney Monroe said, "We wanted to come up with some sort of social experiment where we would galvanize people to tap into the curiosity about whether there is life and intelligence elsewhere.." After all the global tweets were collected, NatGeo and Arecibo Observatory sent out one big intergalactic tweet.

As part of this project, National Geographic Channel (NatGeo) has posted a special edition of the program Chasing UFO’s that was filmed on location at the Arecibo Observatory in commemoration of the 35 anniversary of the WOW signal.

* First picture:  NatGeoTV web site
* Second picture: Transmission of WOW Reply  in progress at the Arecibo Observatory
* Third Picture: Arecibo Observatory Director, Robert Kerr and Erin Ryder from Chasing UFO’


Tony Acevedo                                                                                          Ivonne Rosario Bermúdez
Communications Officer                                                                       Directora de Medios
Arecibo Observatory                                                                               Sistema Universitario Ana G. Mendez                  
787-878-2612, ext.228                                                                          787-751-0178, ext. 7181